VIETNAM

Remnants of the Vietnam war are still visible even today, despite it’s rapid progression towards becoming a developed nation by 2020. Although Vietnam continues to go from strength to strength in economic terms, the rural areas still suffer from a large power discrepancy, leaving many in need of medical care, education and food supplies.

Vietnam has been accused of restricting religious freedom, and attempting to quieten and suppress those members of the media who speak out against the government. An Amnesty International report in 2011 found that 11 people had been convicted in faulty trials for voicing their opinion of the Vietnamese government- corruption of this order has made many Vietnamese fearful in the communist country, due to the repercussions that come with straying from the norm. Freedom of association, the press and speech has long been an issue which has resulted in the breach of human rights for decades- it is hoped that as Vietnam continues to prosper and strengthen its relationship with the US, China and Australia, that the government will change hands towards a more liberating society for its people.

Those interested in volunteering abroad or donating to a cause have access to some of the best charities in Vietnam- everything is on offer from English teaching programs to orphanage work, construction and farming projects to language courses. Vietnam, despite some of its negatives, is an electrifying place to visit and relatively safe compared to most other countries.

The Best Charity has listed five charities who provide potential donators and volunteers some life changing opportunities, for both themselves and the communities of Vietnam. Many people elect to visit the country on holiday, and put aside time to volunteer, make a difference and experience Vietnamese life. Aside from the charities listed, The Best Charity has also supplied a report from the CIA, outlining the intricate components of Vietnam which make it the place it is today.

The best charities in Vietnam

Facts and Figures

The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals – many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants – and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam’s “doi moi” (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The Communist leaders, however, maintain control on political expression and have resisted outside calls to improve human rights. The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups – the vast majority connected to land-use issues, calls for increased political space, and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests.
Geography ::Vietnam
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia
16 10 N, 107 50 E
total: 331,210 sq km

country comparison to the world: 65

land: 310,070 sq km
water: 21,140 sq km
slightly larger than New Mexico
total: 4,639 km
border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km
3,444 km (excludes islands)
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)
low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m
phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower
arable land: 20.14%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 72.93% (2005)
46,000 sq km (2003)
891.2 cu km (1999)
total: 71.39 cu km/yr (8%/24%/68%)
per capita: 847 cu m/yr (2000)
occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
People and Society ::Vietnam
noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
Kinh (Viet) 85.7%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.8%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.5%, Mong 1.2%, Nung 1.1%, others 5.3% (1999 census)
Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8% (1999 census)
91,519,289 (July 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

0-14 years: 25.2% (male 11,945,354/female 10,868,610)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 31,301,879/female 31,419,306)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 1,921,652/female 3,092,589) (2011 est.)
total: 27.8 years
male: 26.8 years
female: 28.9 years (2011 est.)
1.054% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 113

16.83 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119

5.95 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 165

-0.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

urban population: 30% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Ho Chi Minh City 5.976 million; HANOI (capital) 2.668 million; Haiphong 1.941 million; Da Nang 807,000 (2009)
at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
56 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

country comparison to the world: 94

total: 20.24 deaths/1,000 live births

country comparison to the world: 94

male: 20.61 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
total population: 72.41 years

country comparison to the world: 128

male: 69.95 years
female: 75.16 years (2011 est.)
1.89 children born/woman (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 139

7.2% of GDP (2009)

country comparison to the world: 73

1.224 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
2.87 beds/1,000 population (2008)
0.4% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

280,000 (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

14,000 (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and plague
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
0.5% (2000)

country comparison to the world: 70

20.2% (2008)

country comparison to the world: 36

5.3% of GDP (2008)

country comparison to the world: 48

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94%
male: 96.1%
female: 92% (2002 est.)
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2001)
total: 4.6%

country comparison to the world: 124

male: 4.4%
female: 4.9% (2004)
Government ::Vietnam
conventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
conventional short form: Vietnam
local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam
local short form: Viet Nam
abbreviation: SRV
Communist state
name: Hanoi (Ha Noi)
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)
provinces: An Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Lieu, Bac Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tinh, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lam Dong, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Long An, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Phu Tho, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh, Quang Tri, Soc Trang, Son La, Tay Ninh, Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Thua Thien-Hue, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Long, Vinh Phuc, Yen Bai
municipalities: Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City
2 September 1945 (from France)
15 April 1992
civil law system; note – the civil code of 2005 reflects a European-style civil law
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Truong Tan SANG (since 25 July 2011); Vice President Nguyen Thi DOAN (25 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 27 June 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung HAI (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien NHAN (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van NINH (since 3 August 2011), and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan PHUC (since 3 August 2011)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president based on proposal of prime minister and confirmed by National Assembly

(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)

elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for five-year term; last election held 25 July 2011 (next to be held in July 2016); prime minister appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister; appointment of prime minister and deputy prime ministers confirmed by National Assembly
election results: Truong Tan SANG elected president; percent of National Assembly vote – 97%; Nguyen Tan DUNG elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote – 94%
unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (500 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 22 May 2011 (next to be held in May 2016)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – CPV 458, non-party CPV-approved 38, self-nominated 4; note – 500 candidates were elected; the 496 CPV and non-party CPV-approved delegates were members of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and were vetted prior to the election
Supreme People’s Court (chief justice is elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president for a five-year term)
Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nguyen Phu TRONG]; other parties proscribed
8406 Bloc; Democratic Party of Vietnam or DPV; People’s Democratic Party Vietnam or PDP-VN; Alliance for Democracy
note: these groups advocate democracy but are not recognized by the government
ADB, APEC, ARF, ASEAN, CICA, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
chief of mission: Ambassador Nguyen Quoc CUONG
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737
FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917
consulate(s) general: Houston, San Francisco
consulate: New York
chief of mission: Ambassador David B. SHEAR
embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
mailing address: 4550 Hanoi Place, Washington, DC 20521-4550
telephone: [84] (4) 3850-5000
FAX: [84] (4) 3850-5010
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City
red field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center; red symbolizes revolution and blood, the five-pointed star represents the five elements of the populace – peasants, workers, intellectuals, traders, and soldiers – that unite to build socialism
yellow, five-pointed star on red field
name: “Tien quan ca” (The Song of the Marching Troops)
lyrics/music: Nguyen Van CAO
note: adopted as the national anthem of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945; it became the national anthem of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976; although it consists of two verses, only the first is used as the official anthem
Economy ::Vietnam
Vietnam is a densely-populated developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. While Vietnam’s economy remains dominated by state-owned enterprises, which still produce about 40% of GDP, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive export-driven industries. Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in January 2007 following more than a decade-long negotiation process. Vietnam became an official negotiating partner in the developing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement in 2010. Agriculture’s share of economic output has continued to shrink from about 25% in 2000 to about 22% in 2011, while industry’s share increased from 36% to 40% in the same period. Deep poverty has declined significantly, and Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than one million people every year. The global recession has hurt Vietnam’s export-oriented economy, with GDP in 2009-11 growing less than the 7% per annum average achieved during the last decade. In 2011, exports increased by more than 33%, year-on-year, and the trade deficit, while reduced from 2010, remained high, prompting the government to maintain administrative trade measures to limit the trade deficit. Vietnam’s managed currency, the dong, continues to face downward pressure due to a persistent trade imbalance. Since 2008, the government devalued it in excess of 20% through a series of small devaluations. Foreign donors pledged nearly $8 billion in new development assistance for 2011. However, the government’s strong growth-oriented economic policies have caused it to struggle to control one of the region’s highest inflation rates, which reached as high as 23% in August 2011 and averaged 18% for the year. In February 2011, Vietnam shifted its focus away from economic growth to stabilizing its economy and tightened fiscal and monetary policies. In early 2012 Vietnam unveiled a broad “three pillar” economic reform program, proposing the restructuring of public investment, state-owned enterprises and the banking sector. Vietnam’s economy continues to face challenges from low foreign exchange reserves, an undercapitalized banking sector, and high borrowing costs. The near-bankruptcy and subsequent default of the state-owned-enterprise Vinashin, a leading shipbuilder, led to a ratings downgrade of Vietnam’s sovereign debt, exacerbating Vietnam’s borrowing difficulties.
$299.2 billion (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

$282.9 billion (2010 est.)
$265 billion (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
$123.6 billion (2011 est.)
5.8% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

6.8% (2010 est.)
5.3% (2009 est.)
$3,300 (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

$3,200 (2010 est.)
$3,000 (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
agriculture: 22%
industry: 40.3%
services: 37.7% (2011 est.)
46.48 million (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 13

agriculture: 48%
industry: 22.4%
services: 29.6% (2011)
2.3% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

2.9% (2010 est.)
14.5% (2010 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 30.2% (2008)
37.6 (2008)

country comparison to the world: 74

36.1 (1998)
34.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

revenues: $32.8 billion
expenditures: $35.7 billion (2011 est.)
26.5% of GDP (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 113

-2.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 85

57.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

57.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and excludes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment. Debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions.
18.6% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 214

9% (2010 est.)
13% (31 December 2011)

country comparison to the world: 44

7% (31 December 2010)
18% (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 61

13.135% (31 December 2010 est.)
$32.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

$32.08 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$130.5 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

$127.1 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$151.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

$138 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$26 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

$37 billion (31 December 2010)
$35 billion (31 December 2009)
paddy rice, coffee, rubber, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood
food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, mobile phones
6% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

106 billion kWh (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 32

101 billion kWh (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

535 million kWh (2009 est.)
3.85 billion kWh (2009 est.)
305,000 bbl/day (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

321,500 bbl/day (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 38

210,500 bbl/day (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

227,000 bbl/day (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

600 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 45

8.5 billion cu m (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

9.5 billion cu m (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

0 cu m (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 203

1 billion cu m (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

192.5 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 48

-$4.74 billion (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 165

-$5.656 billion (2010 est.)
$96.3 billion (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

$72.27 billion (2010 est.)
clothes, shoes, marine products, crude oil, electronics, wooden products, rice, machinery
US 18%, China 11%, Japan 11%, Germany 3.7% (2010 est.)
$105.3 billion (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 32

$79.95 billion (2010 est.)
machinery and equipment, petroleum products, steel products, raw materials for the clothing and shoe industries, electronics, plastics, automobiles
China 22%, South Korea 13.2%, Japan 10.4%, Taiwan 8.6%, Thailand 6.4%, Singapore 6.4% (2010 est.)
$16.76 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

$12.93 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$37.34 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

$32.84 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$67.65 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

$77.95 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$7.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

$5.3 billion (31 December 2008)
dong (VND) per US dollar -
20,585.6 (2011 est.)
19,130.5 (2010 est.)
17,799.6 (2009)
16,548.3 (2008)
16,119 (2007)
calendar year
Communications ::Vietnam
16.4 million (2009)

country comparison to the world: 18

154 million (2009)

country comparison to the world: 7

general assessment: Vietnam is putting considerable effort into modernization and expansion of its telecommunication system
domestic: all provincial exchanges are digitalized and connected to Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay networks; main lines have been increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: country code – 84; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3, the C2C, and Thailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong submarine cable systems; the Asia-America Gateway submarine cable system, completed in 2009, provided new access links to Asia and the US; satellite earth stations – 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
government controls all broadcast media exercising oversight through the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC); government-controlled national TV provider, Vietnam Television (VTV), operates a network of 9 channels with several regional broadcasting centers; programming is relayed nationwide via a network of provincial and municipal TV stations; law limits access to satellite TV but many households are able to access foreign programming via home satellite equipment; government-controlled Voice of Vietnam, the national radio broadcaster, broadcasts on 6 channels and is repeated on AM, FM, and shortwave stations throughout Vietnam (2008)
.vn
175,612 (2010)

country comparison to the world: 73

23.382 million (2009)

country comparison to the world: 17

Transportation ::Vietnam
44 (2010)

country comparison to the world: 97

total: 37
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2010)
total: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2010)
1 (2010)
condensate 28 km; condensate/gas 10 km; gas 216 km; refined products 206 km (2010)
total: 2,632 km

country comparison to the world: 62

standard gauge: 527 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 2,105 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
total: 180,549 km

country comparison to the world: 27

paved: 133,899 km
unpaved: 46,650 km (2008)
17,702 km (5,000 km are navigable by vessels up to 1.8 m draft) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 7

total: 579

country comparison to the world: 20

by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 142, cargo 335, chemical tanker 23, container 19, liquefied gas 7, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 48, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1, specialized tanker 1
registered in other countries: 86 (Cambodia 1, Kiribati 2, Mongolia 33, Panama 43, Taiwan 1, Tuvalu 6) (2010)
Cam Pha Port, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu My, Quy Nhon
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift
Military ::Vietnam
People’s Armed Forces: People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN; includes People’s Navy Command (with Naval Infantry, Coast Guard), Air and Air Defense Force (Khong Quan Nhan Dan), Border Defense Command), People’s Public Security Forces, Militia Force, Self-Defense Forces (2010)
18 years of age for male compulsory military service; females may volunteer for active duty military service; conscript service obligation – 2 years (3 to 4 years in the navy); 18-45 years of age (male) or 18-40 years of age (female) for Militia Force or Self Defense Forces (2006)
males age 16-49: 25,649,738
females age 16-49: 24,995,692 (2010 est.)
males age 16-49: 20,405,847
females age 16-49: 21,098,102 (2010 est.)
male: 847,743
female: 787,341 (2010 est.)
2.5% of GDP (2005 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Transnational Issues ::Vietnam
southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities; progress on a joint development area with Cambodia is hampered by an unresolved dispute over sovereignty of offshore islands; an estimated 300,000 Vietnamese refugees reside in China; establishment of a maritime boundary with Cambodia is hampered by unresolved dispute over the sovereignty of offshore islands; the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009; China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; Brunei claims a maritime boundary extending beyond as far as a median with Vietnam, thus asserting an implicit claim to Lousia Reef; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct” desired by several of the disputants; Vietnam continues to expand construction of facilities in the Spratly Islands; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands; Economic Exclusion Zone negotiations with Indonesia are ongoing, and the two countries in Fall 2011 agreed to work together to reduce illegal fishing along their maritime boundary
minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; government continues to face domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems despite longstanding crackdowns

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